One of Jack Rabid’s top picks in the latest print edition:
John Andrew Fredrick intends this as the final tBW LP, which is understandable on a commercial, not artistic level. Perhaps the even dozen he’s eked out to negligible notice since 1988 with various LA lineups will become cult/collector crazes someday hence; whatever, let’s salute a high quality career, right to this end. Beatles experts recognize Sugarplum’s title; it’s how John Lennon counted out “A Day in Life” (instead of “1-2-3-4”), and that multi-faceted Sgt. Pepper closer educes the oxymoronic “simple complexity” of Black Watch favorites. Fredrick sings prominent melodies in basic indie-pop structures, layering in demanding influences: the buzz of modern noise pop (Sugarplum uses fuzzier guitar than usual), the poetic spare-ness of Go-Betweens and Felt, the dissonance of MBV, and the crispness of Neil Young (“Quietly Now”). Lyrics remain a forte, too; the wry regrets of “Dear Dead Love” and standout “There You Were” befit his proficiency as an entertaining novelist, too. Hail and farewell, JAF.